Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Quick Film Review--Sweet Sixteen (2002)

1. Ken Loach. What a fun guy.

2. Loach is so much better when he leaves the overt politics behind and just tells a story. While I have a certain lefty appreciation for films like Carla's Song and Land and Freedom, they are basically propaganda pieces with a limited artistic vision. Sweet Sixteen is the story of a kid whose Mom is in prison on drug charges. He wants to build a new life with her so he works to get her a new place to live for when she gets out. It ultimately doesn't work and disaster results. This story is as political as anything Loach has done. What he's saying is that we can't look at working-class kids who do stupid things and end up in prison as criminals. They are beseiged on all fronts, especially by the adults in their lives. They often want to do better but it's very hard. This is at least as profound as most movies Loach has done. It's much the same as political music--shut up with the propaganda and tell your story. Loach has done that here and he's made a hell of a good movie.

3. We talk about an English language. As if it were one thing. We all know that people speak differently. People who grow up in rural Alabama, the Bronx, North Dakota, and the San Fernando Valley all speak differently, not to mention England and Australia. But Jesus that working-class Scottish accent is difficult. Completely incomprehensible. Thank God for subtitles. Even reading the subtitles, I could understand maybe 1/2 of what they said. To some extent it's the local jargon but most of it is that they are basically speaking another language. I also found the use of the word "cunt" remarkable. In the US, it's basically a taboo word. There are a few words less accepted, but they are few. Evidentally, in Scotland this is not the case. It's a perjorative, no question. But it seems to serve a pretty much catch-all purpose. Hey, maybe I can start a similar trend here....